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Blind sea captains and sunken treasure: exploring the NSS through the eyes of Captain Cat

A presentation from the Arts and Humanities Annual Conference 2014.

Every year final year degree students at UK universities are surveyed to find out their levels of satisfaction with their course through the National Student Satisfaction Survey (NSS). Those studying art and design disciplines have tended to give low (and often the lowest) scores. “Whats behind the NSS” was a University for the Creative Arts research project undertaken in May 2013 which explored student responses to the National Student Survey through a series of semi structured interviews. The findings from this research reveal some positive experiences of deep learning for creative arts students: they describe fascinating journeys of being ‘plunged into presenting’ developing new confidences to ‘experiment and play’ through expansive curriculum design and of being ‘constantly challenged to take the work into new realms’ through passionate and enthusiastic tutors. The findings also capture some uncomfortable truths about pedagogy that suggest a more hidden curriculum which is not learner-centred or inclusive and which might be in serious need of updating.

‘…sucking him down salt deep into the Davy dark where the fish come

biting out and nibble him down to his wishbone and the long drowned

nuzzle up to him”

Just as Captain Cat the retired sea captain in Under Milk Wood dreams of the deep with all its memories and abstractions this paper presentation explores the hidden curriculum through the National Student Survey revealing sometimes distorted often ‘jellyfish slippery’ art and design pedagogy which both shocks and surprises in terms of the student experience.

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